While You Were Sleeping...
When we are sleeping, not only do we see images in our mind’s eye, we experience some of our most intense and disturbing feelings. We are rarely subjected to these intense feelings and situations in awake consciousness. Sleep is the safest way for us to experience these strong emotions because we are paralyzed physically, and the mind is busy doing other things like storing memories into long-term memory. In this state, the body and mind are helpless to confront or disassociate from the feelings taking place. This brings up a controversial theory, that the mind is not necessary to feel feelings! It is now common knowledge that scientists have discovered that humans hold memories in their cells, and some trauma specialists would argue that in order to heal these cellular memories you don’t need to know what you are healing! However, the body does seem to need to feel emotions in order to heal and transmute (process of clearing debris) these cellular memories.
So, if the mind does not need to be involved with feeling feelings why is it that the mind kicks into gear the moment we start to feel anything? The mind has evolved to problem-solve the moment it senses danger. If a feeling arises, as they do, the mind senses a threat and immediately goes into problem solving mode. In fact, recent studies indicate that the resting mind, one that is not engaged in direct activity, is already in a negative bias position and in a poised state of problem solving! I suspect that our quickly evolving minds are even more hyper-aware than we currently understand and for some people…so aware that it produces pain.
Which leads us back to feelings…again. Those pesky things that will not go away no matter what we do. We deny them and lie about them to others and to ourselves. We shove them down so deep that we think we have “dealt with them”, however there is no such thing as “dealing with” emotions. Emotions are physical symptoms, felt in the body, and expressed through the body. Emotions are not thoughts. Thoughts are not emotions, if they were, they would be called the same thing. Emotions don’t require “reasons”, thoughts, however, only serve to produce reasons in order to master something that it wants to control or have power over. Humans have tried to gain this control over emotions, I dare say, since the beginning of time, but remain unsuccessful. All the mind can do is blame or find cause for feelings; it can never actually feel or heal feelings.
This is potentially very good news. We can all stop blaming ourselves and others for our feelings! If it were only that easy…we can make a start however, and begin to meta-cogitate on this idea. We can start to think about our thinking and internally watch how we respond to others and how we respond to our own feelings. We may not like what we feel, but we don’t have to blame or find causation to why we are feeling a certain way. In fact, we already have a very accurate way to communicate with our feelings that is separate from our mind. Our intuition.
New studies indicate that the practices of self-compassion and mindfulness are two very powerful ways to open up our intuition. These tools help to create a quiet space in our beings to hear a still small voice, which at times can also be a loud command like “run!” or “no!” Some groups of people and cultures already have practices of meditation and yoga, which stimulates highly evolved intuitive abilities. There is no reason why we, in the West, can’t have that too!
One reason that we have such difficulty accessing our intuition is the constant over-stimulation of our brains. We are bombarded constantly with social media, consumerism and instant gratification. On the opposite side of the pendulum, we have severe heroin, opioid and alcohol addiction. One is a hyper-state, the other depressed. In either state, it is difficult to be relaxed and alert at the same time. This is the key to accessing intuition and a peaceful balance between the mind and body.
There are some things that you can practice today that will start to wake up a dormant intuition. Take a moment or ten minutes every morning to yourself, even if it’s in your bathroom. Instead of listening to your “critical” voice, cultivate quietness, emptiness, focused nothingness. Put down your phone, and commit to this time with yourself to calm your brain. Try this for a week. Notice if the critical voice (problem-seeking/problem-solving voice) comes back. Practice putting those thoughts aside using self-compassion. All that is necessary to start is about ten minutes a day in a relaxed but alert state to begin to cultivate openness that will allow the still small voice to appear. In this state of relaxation and alertness when feelings arise, they will be noticed faster, and can be processed with less anxiety and fear. Instead of pushing feelings away we can ask basic questions like "What is this feeling telling me? Do I need to eat, protect myself, grieve or smile?" This is how intuition replaces problem-solving.
I can wrap this up into two main ideas, first, feel your feelings using self-compassion and second, allow the intuition to guide you instead of an overactive imagination. Remember, the brain does not identify with or attach blame to feelings while we are sleeping, even though we experience some of the strongest emotions while we are unconscious. When we learn to have self-compassion, we can respond to feelings from a relaxed state. When we allow feelings to be expressed safely (never to abuse or hurt another person) we are able to actually heal the feelings that arise. There is no need to disassociate or suppress them. When we surrender the need to control feelings, we allow ourselves to be human and to join the human race.
I would love to hear your feedback on this topic or any of my other blog topics. Please contact me through my website at www.compassiontherapies.com/contact. Be well!